Dr. David Spellberg, a Fort Myers, Florida urologist has agreed to pay $1,050,000 to resolve allegations that he ordered unnecessary medical tests. Dr. Spellberg, formerly of Naples Urology Associates, was also involved in a recent settlement stemming from allegations that Dr. Spellberg and other doctors ordered unnecessary cancer tests while working for 21st Century Oncology. In December 2015, 21st Century Oncology, an international cancer treatment company, and Naples Urology Associates settled claims against the companies for $19.75 million. The recent $1,050,000 settlement, announced January 29, 2016, resolved claims against Dr. Spellberg personally.
Both settlements stem from allegations originally brought under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act by a former medical assistant that worked under Dr. Spellberg. The qui tam whistleblower will receive $3.2 million from the December corporate settlement and $200,000 of Dr. Spellberg’s recent settlement.
According to court documents, the allegations revolved around Dr. Spellberg’s practice of ordering of fluorescence in situ hybridization tests, commonly known as FISH tests. The qui tam complaint alleged that the expensive FISH tests should only be utilized on rare occasions, however, Dr. Spellberg ordered the FISH tests for the majority of his patients, particularly Medicare patients. The complaint also alleged that 21st Century Oncology knew of this practice and incentivized Dr. Spellberg with bonuses based on the number of tests he ordered.
A. Lee Bentley, III, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida commented in a statement: “False claims such as these impact the solvency of our public healthcare programs and erode the confidence of those being serviced by that care.”
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